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Show Me the Human Clones

If man is matter, and nothing more, man can be copied. If not, he can’t

In my most recent post, I made a simple argument:

● If the human mind is wholly material, it should be possible to clone humans.


● If the human mind is not wholly material, it should not be possible to clone humans.

After all, cloning is a wholly material process—mix a nucleus from a mature non-germ cell with some cytoplasm, and voila!— you have a copy of the original organism. Cloning works like a photocopy machine. Of course, you can photocopy a piece of paper, but you can’t photocopy something that isn’t material to begin with. You can photocopy a page from a newspaper. You can’t photocopy “journalism.”

I’ve gotten a bit of pushback on this from my friends on this. The gist of their warning is: “Be careful of making this challenge because if cloning of humans is eventually accomplished, it gives a big boost to materialism.” Well, that’s true. If man is matter, and nothing more, man can be copied. If not, he can’t.

If man can be copied by a wholly material process, I need to rethink things. If he cannot be, materialists need to rethink things.

We in the reality-based (i.e., immaterialist) community need to take our own ideas seriously. Atheists and materialists don’t take their own ideas seriously, of course—can you think of a single materialist who lives as if there were no objective standard of right and wrong or as if free will were not actually real? Try taking a materialist’s parking spot, and explaining “It’s not wrong, because there is no transcendent Source of moral law, and I had no choice anyway. My molecules made me do it.”

Atheists and materialists don’t have the integrity to live in accordance with the logical consequences of their own ideology (as the philosopher Nietzsche so accurately observed). We theists and immaterialists need to do better.

If immaterialism of the human intellect and will is true, man can’t be cloned by any material process. I need to specify a few things, though.

1. I am referring to reproductive cloning, not therapeutic cloning. It may well be possible (I think it is probable) that we will be able to clone human tissues for commendable therapeutic purposes. We might even (God help us) clone a complete non-rational hominin who looks just like a man. But we will never be able to clone a rational human being, because we can’t clone (i.e. manufacture) a spiritual soul.

2. Twinning is not cloning, nor is simple facilitation of the natural reproductive capabilities of germ cells or stem cells, such as and somatic-cell nuclear transfer and pluripotent stem cell induction. We can already facilitate twinning by the use of fertility drugs and we can make stem cells do remarkable things. That is not reproductive cloning from mature (non-germ, non-stem) cells.

3. The reproductive cloning of which I speak is cloning from a mature non-germ non-stem cell—e.g. a mature human skin cell. Simply facilitating the natural process of human reproduction or facilitating the pluripotency of stem cells is not cloning, at least not of the sort I mean. It is the manufacture of human beings, not the facilitation of natural human reproduction or of the natural pluripotency of stem cells, that I assert is impossible.

4. How could we know that a reproductive clone has a spiritual soul? Simple. A human being has the abstract immaterial ability to use language, to reason, to abstract general concepts from particular things, to use logic, to think about God, and to exercise free will. An individual without a spiritual soul would lack abstract thought but could have sensation, perception, imagination, memory, emotions, etc. That is to say, an individual without a spiritual soul would have all the powers of an animal, but would not have human intellect and free will.

There is strong scientific evidence for the immateriality of human intellect and free will, which I have described elsewhere. We have largely overlooked this evidence because we approach it with a materialist mindset. We usually don’t follow the evidence when it leads us, as it does, away from materialism.

But we should ask this question: Why is it that reproductive cloning has been successful with the cat, deer, dog, horse, mule, ox, rabbit, rat, and rhesus monkey, but not man?

It’s time to ask: why can’t man be cloned? If man is matter and nothing more, show me the clones.

See also: Is an immaterial mind a barrier to human cloning?

Michael Egnor: Human cloning has thus far been a scientific dead end The ability to clone a rational man is a straightforward prediction of the materialist view of man, and the inability to clone a rational man is a straightforward prediction of the immaterialist view.

Also by Michael Egnor on the immaterial mind:

Four researchers whose work sheds light on the reality of the mind The brain can be cut in half, but the intellect and will cannot. The intellect and will are metaphysically simple

Atheist psychiatrist misunderstands the evidence for an immaterial mind. Patients with massive brain damage were shown to have a mental life.


Materialism is an intellectual trap, out of which neuroscience needs to climb . Neurologist Steven Novella refutes himself. He first asserts that everything he knows is an illusion. Then he insists that his illusions slap him in the face with reality.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

Show Me the Human Clones